In a recent Instagram poll I conducted (above), 52% of women answering the question of whether they go for cervical screening, said that they do so without fail. I asked the question on the basis of my recently received summons to book my appointment.
Like many women, for a number of years, I did as I was advised, sorry, ‘advised’, and dutifully went along to the surgery once every few years for the smear test; now brought up to date with the less graphic moniker of Cervical Screening. I know women for whom it is such a trauma, that they procrastinate over making their appointment, and then pass out during the process. It’s about five years since my last test, and it’s very unlikely I will have another one, unless some significant new evidence comes to light.
It prompted me to get an article together because I think many women are going along for their screening, without really knowing too much about it, other than that the medical overlords have decreed that it’s necessary. I’m not judging that approach; we are taught that we should trust the authorities for they most definitely have our interests at heart. And that it is definitely nothing to do with supporting industries.
I’m not intending to attempt to convince anyone that they should not go for cervical screening, you should always do what you feel is the right ting to to do. I’m only here to provide an alternative perspective for those who are interested.
Ok, so what actually is cancer?
Well, according to conventional medicine, cancer is when abnormal cells divide in an uncontrolled way.
It might be first useful here to look at biology for a moment and understand for those who don’t already know that the human machine is organised in five levels:
Cells - the most basic part of the human system
Tissues - cells form tissue which is a group of connected cells
Organs - An organ is a structure that consists of two or more types of tissues that work together to do the same job
Organ Systems - An organ system is a group of organs that work together to carry out a complex overall function. Each organ of the system does part of the larger job.
The Whole System - The human body
Whilst the description of what cancer is, is not too contentious, the issue is that its positioned to us that it is almost something that happens overnight; that everything is ticking along fine and then boom, we are struck down by misfortune / genetic fate / the sexually transmitted HPV.
According to Cancer Research UK, 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime, and yet despite all the marathon running, cake making, pink wearing, moustache growing and fancy dressing, we do not seem to be making any inroads into reducing that number, in fact it seems to be on the rise. There is a good blog from Billy here about The War On Cancer, where he looks in a bit more detail, as he often does, at the figures around cancer, especially in the context of research.
And what of HPV?
According to common medical protocol, It is an indicator of cervical cancer, and The National Cancer Institute tells us that virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV, and just two HPV types, 16 and 18, are responsible for about 70% of all cases. But in order to subscribe to this concept, we must think of cancer as an issue that occurs in isolation.
To buy into the concept that cancer is a localised issue relying on the contraction of a virus, reduces it to a non-systemic problem, that can be prevented by a vaccine; or treated by cutting, burning or poisoning. However, if we view cancer as a systemic problem, which begins with dysfunctional cellular health (remember the cell is the lowest level of the body’s operating system), which is a widely accepted concept in science, then we need to consider cellular health as a bedrock for cancer to take hold in the first place.
Here, I am handing over to Billy for him to give us some scientific insight into the biology around cancer:
The idea is continually perpetuated that cancer cells thrive on sugar, but in reality cells thrive on sugar, and since the 1924 publication of Dr. Otto Warburg's On Metabolism of Tumors. (1) The Nobel Prize-winning cell biologist’s work in which he hypothesised that cancer cell growth occurs when cancer cells convert glucose to energy without oxygen, allowed us a better understanding of the physiology of cancer. A normal well functioning cell creates energy using pyruvate and oxygen which is oxidized within the mitochondria. Cancer cells have what we could consider mitochondrial dysfunction as they do not oxidise pyruvate, instead energy is generated via lactate metabolism.
Lactate was discovered by Karl Wilhelm Scheele in 1780 to be evident in sour milk. (2) And later works found lactate to be elevated in the muscles of hunted stags, (3; 4), and in human blood in conditions of pathology by the German physician/chemist Johann Joseph Scherer in 1843 and 1851. (5; 6) As well as in later works by notable scientists such as Pasteur (7), and Meyerhof (8), that enabled our current understanding that inhibition of oxygen within cellular respiration creates a hypoxic environment which necessitates energy production via lactate fermentation, and the subsequent lactate accumulation.
Far from being a waste product, lactate has numerous uses as a fuel (when running from a bear it is useful to be able to maintain energy generation even when you are no longer able to sufficiently supply oxygen. Warburg et al. (1) showed that veins (return blood supply) had higher lactate levels and lower glucose than the artery feeding tumors, suggesting tumors produce lactate leading some to conclude that cells are ravenous for glucose yet produce lactate as a by-product. It would seem more likely that inadequate glucose is supplied to the cells, therefore necessitating lactate fermentation. Indeed, various works show that elevations in lactate concentration predict cancer risk. (9)
Therefore, situations in which one can expect increased lactate (following extreme anaerobic activity (such as marathon running) should be followed by attempts to clear serum lactate concentrations swiftly. In normal conditions such as working environments testing of lactate and provisions to maintain normal energy generation would seem wise.
Reference: Warburg, O., Wind, F., & Negelein, E. (1927). The metabolism of tumors in the body. J Gen Physiol. 8: 519–530. Scheele KW (1788–1789) Opuscula chemica et physica. Leipzig. Berzelius, J, J. (1806–1808). Föreläsningar i djurkemien. Stockholm. Berzelius, J, J. (1808–1818). Lärbok i Kemien. Nordström. Stockholm. Scherer, J, J. (1843). Chemische und Mikroskopische Untersuchungen zur Pathologie angestellt an den Kliniken des Julius-Hospitales zu Würzburg. C.F. Winter, Heidelberg. Scherer, J, J. (1851). Eine Untersuchung des Blutes bei Leukämie. Verhandlungen der Physikalisch-Medicinischen Gesellschaft im Würzburg. 2: 321–325. Pasteur, L. (1880). De l'extension de la théorie des germes à l'étiologie de quelques maladies communes. C R Acad Sci. 90: 1033–1044. Meyerhof, O. (1927). Recent investigations on the aerobic and an-aerobic metabolism of carbohydrates. J Gen Physiol. 8(6): 531–4210. Brizel, D, M., Schroeder, T., Scher, R, L., Walenta, S., Clough, R, W., Dewhirst, M, W., et al. (2001). Elevated tumor lactate concentrations predict for an increased risk of metastases in head-and-neck cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 51: 349–53.
This is important, especially in these days where sugar demonising is encouraging cult-like following leading to attempts at no (exogenous) sugar diets, which leaves the body to rely on producing its own sugar (endogenously).
This is obviously a complex subject, and I recognise that in not dumbing it down to x = y, which is incidentally what most of our 'health advice’ does, it may seem a little abstract. However, it would seem to me that the key to remaining cancer free, is to broaden the biological gaze, and consider the body as a system, rather than as parts which can be vaccinated or nuked as appropriate.
If you have any questions on the above, please feel free to contact either Billy or myself, in confidence of course. In the meantime, if anyone wants me, Imma be over here ensuring my glucose levels are sufficient, and that my lactate levels are as low as can be, and avoiding where possible unnecessary stress, such as trips to the surgery, to enable the aforementioned.